What Is Paraquat?
Paraquat dichloride (paraquat) is a chemical agent most commonly used as an herbicide. Although it was first produced more than 130 years ago, its application as an herbicide did not become popularized until the mid-20th century. Paraquat is now used as an herbicide agent on a range of more than 100 different types of crops.
Is Paraquat Safe?
According to the American Council on Science and Health, Paraquat’s relative toxicity of glyphosate, another popularly used herbicide known to be toxic, ranges from 33-250. A lethal dose for an average person is around 2.5 grams, and it is even more toxic when inhaled. Paraquat’s toxicity has made it a traditionally popular agent for suicide because it can kill a person with a single sip.
Paraquat exposure has also been linked to adverse health effects, including Parkinson’s disease.
In February 2011, the National Institute of Health (NIH) conducted a study – the Farming and Movement Evaluation (FAME) – exploring claims that exposure to the popular herbicide Paraquat could be linked to a greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Paraquat Banned Across The Globe
Around the world, Paraquat is banned in 32 countries. Notably, although Paraquat is produced by Swiss manufacturer Syngenta, use of the hebicide has been banned in Switzerland since 1989.
Paraquat has been on the banned substances list in England and throughout the European Union since 2013 yet one of the Syngenta’s largest Paraquat manufacturing facilities is located in Northern England, but most of the yield is sent to the United States.
China also produces Paraquat. Although it is known for being an industrial nation with lax environmental regulations, China announced in 2012 that it would begin to phase out Paraquat to “safeguard people’s lives”. All production is now exported. Many other nations are now following suit and venturing away from the herbicide, citing research that links the chemical to health risks.
Increased Paraquat Use in the United States
But, in the U.S., in recent years, Paraquat has become a popular alternative to Monsano’s Roundup. Roundup has long been the preferred herbicidal agent for American agricultural workers, but weeds and pests are becoming resistant to it and lawsuits alleging dangers and injuries arise, farmers are turning to alternative herbicides and pesticides to treat their crops.
Paraquat has become the preferred herbicidal alternative, in light of the issues surrounding Roundup, especially for soybean fields, where the number of pounds used is up fourfold over the last 10 years. In 2016 alone, the United States sprayed 7 million pounds of Paraquat over nearly 15 million acres of land.
However, it is important to note that all Paraquat products are Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs), meaning only licensed applicators are able to use the herbicide. All applicators must be “licensed in accordance with EPA regulations and state, territorial and tribal laws.”
EPA Regulatory Filing on Paraquat
In March 2016, the Environmental Agency (EPA) announced in a regulatory filing that they would be further exploring the possible health risks associated with Paraquat. The filing is part of a program, sponsored by the EPA, that re-evaluates all pesticides on a 15-year cycle.
In the announcement, the agency said, “There is a large body of epidemiology data on paraquat dichloride use and Parkinson’s disease.” The EPA plans to decide whether to place Paraquat on the banned substance or continue to allow the chemical to be sprayed on US cropland, but a final decision is not expected until next year at the earliest.
Paraquat Lawsuit Filed
There is currently a Paraquat lawsuit filed in St. Clair County, Illinois. The lawsuit, which was filed on Oct. 6, 2017, is filed on behalf of farmers and agricultural workers who were exposed to Paraquat and, as a result, developed Parkinson’s disease. The original defendants named in the Paraquat lawsuit were Syngenta and Growmark.
Plaintiffs in the Paraquat lawsuit claim that Syngenta and Growmark manufactured Paraquat, distributed and sold it a as Gramoxone or by other names since 1964.
In an amended complaint, plaintiffs also named Chevron Chemical as a defendant, claiming that Chevron acted in concert with Syngenta and Growmark.
Plaintiffs argue that, before the recent studies linking Paraquat to Parkinson’s, they were completely unaware that the chemical posed any long-term health risks.
Get the Compensation You Deserve
Because of the complexity involved in determining if you have a case against these manufacturers, it’s important you contact one of our Paraquat attorneys today. If you have previously been exposed to Paraquat - or similar herbicide Rotenone – and subsequently developed Parkinson’s disease or signs of ongoing developing Parkinson’s, you may qualify to participate in the Paraquat lawsuit.